Nursing concept analysis in North America: state of the art

Nurs Philos. 2008 Jul;9(3):180-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-769X.2008.00359.x.


The strength of a discipline is reflected in the development of a set of concepts relevant to its practice domain. As an evolving professional discipline, nursing requires further development in this respect. Over the past two decades in North America there have emerged three different approaches to concept analysis in nursing scholarship: Wilsonian-derived, evolutionary, and pragmatic utility. The present paper compares and contrasts these three methods of concept in terms of purpose, procedures, philosophical underpinnings, limitations, guidance for researchers, and ability to contribute to nursing knowledge and disciplinary advancement. This work extends prior criticisms of concept analysis methods, especially as formulated by Morse and colleagues, by promoting further critical discussion regarding the direction and effectiveness of nursing efforts to meet the basic needs of disciplinary development. Its central thesis is that nursing concept analysis must advance beyond the Wilsonian-derived methods of Walker and Avant by devoting greater attention to understanding the domain of concepts to be analysed and deriving features from these contexts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Concept Formation*
  • Knowledge*
  • North America
  • Nursing Theory*
  • Philosophy, Nursing*